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Senior Bowl quarterbacks ready for NFL audition

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Senior Bowl quarterbacks ready for NFL audition

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Quarterbacks at all-star games have tough assignments.

The six Senor Bowl signal callers will be playing off cliff notes of a new offense, throwing to unfamiliar receivers and taking snaps from a new center in Saturday's NFL showcase. And they'll all do it from under center, not the shotgun for those more accustomed to the spread in college.

All the while with dozens of scouts, coaches and NFL execs studying their every move on and off the field. Not that anyone is complaining considering the potential rewards.

``It's a job interview so you've got to be ready to go when it's time to go,'' Syracuse's Ryan Nassib he said.

That could mean a lot of money for those who deftly manage the tasks. The game might be the most relaxing part of the weeklong job fair.

West Virginia's Geno Smith, widely considered the top quarterback prospect, skipped the Senior Bowl.

That left Nassib, North Carolina State's Mike Glennon and Zac Dysert of Miami, Ohio, as the North quarterbacks and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson on the South.

All piled up big college numbers, then had to start over on Monday.

``We're used to the first day of practice just about every ball on the ground, fumbled exchanges, all those things,'' said the Detroit Lions' Jim Schwartz, coach of the South team. ``But from the time all three of those quarterbacks stepped into the huddle on the first day they had good command and weren't botching snaps and they were making accurate throws.

``People underestimate how difficult that is when you come into an environment like this.''

The six quarterbacks bring plenty of experience to the task. They've logged an average of 10,000-plus career passing yards and 71 touchdowns led by Jones, a four-year starter who passed for 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns for the Sooners.

Even with players like Smith and a host of juniors at various positions not around, the Senior Bowl has some projected first-round talent, according to mock drafts. That includes Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, Baylor receiver Terrance Williams and Brigham Young defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah.

The quarterbacks get a chance to display their arms, brains and leadership.

``I look around and there's some really talented quarterbacks here, guys that I've been hearing about all year long and watching on TV,'' said Nassib, whose team beat West Virginia and Smith in the Pinstripe Bowl said. ``It's a very competitive class. I just have to make sure I go out and play my game and try to prove myself to these teams here.''

Glennon is a strong-armed 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who is projected as a potential Top 10 pick by some. They all share similar goals for the week.

``I just want to prove that I belong in the NFL and that I can win games in the NFL,'' he said. ``I know it's hard to prove that in one week, but they have a good eye for it. I just want to prove that I can make the right throws, I can make the right decisions and execute well enough to lead an offense to victory.''

At least one Senior Bowl quarterback has been chosen in the first round of the past three drafts, including Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden (22nd, Cleveland Browns) last year.

Christian Ponder and Jake Locker both made the cut two years ago and Tim Tebow was a first-rounder in 2010. It remains to be seen which quarterbacks have helped or hurt their cause this week.

``It's a big week for all of us,'' Glennon said. ``A lot of players that come here help themselves out tremendously. I think we all realize the opportunity in front of us, and that's why it's such a great event.''

Their targets include Michigan's converted quarterback Denard Robinson and Williams, the nation's leading receiver. Williams caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns - including a 17-catch, 314-yard effort on Sept. 29 against West Virginia.

That topped the performance a week earlier by Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton, who gets to team up with Wilson for another week, at least. Hamilton had 10 catches for 303 yards against Rutgers.

Meanwhile, Florida State's 6-foot-4, 237-pound Manuel impressed Schwartz with his physique.

``The thing that pops out is his size,'' said Schwartz, who also praised his accuracy. ``(Ben) Roethlisberger's a big quarterback but I think he's got nothing on Manuel. He's got super long arms. He looks like a tight end out there. He's just a really, really big man.''

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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